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Pilot text messages are saving you from flight delays

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Using a new text-based communication technology called Data Comm, the FAA is helping speed up departures across the country. (www.cnet.com) 更多...

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zcolescott
Seriously though, I always thought this would be a slick add-on in GA cockpits. With the efficiency of using EFBs paired with a GPS (via FlightStream or some other device), it'd be nothing to receive a message to the EFB and port the new routing over to the GPS navigation device.
brocklee9000
Exactly. With foreflight you can send VFR and IFR flight plans. Shoot, you can even open and close VFR flight plans right from the app. It would be nice if IFR could also be done wirelessly like that. Commercial pilots can use ACARS and CPDLC to get ATIS and clearances and amendments, it would be nice for GA as well.
nasdisco
Chris B 4
How we can port this efficiency to GA?
zcolescott
Easy...$$$$
dtgriscom
Is it as obvious when a pilot is texting-while-flying as it is when a driver is texting-while-driving? ("Whoa: watch out for that E90; he's drifting out of his lane...")
DNev
DNev 2
Does this system update routing after take off? Is it automatically accepted? If this system updates while in flight then other factors need to be considered. In other words there still needs to be an agreement on the new routing. As a corporate pilot we have received new routes that were so far off our initial and current route of flight that they were not acceptable. I would hate to be locked into a route that added undue amount of time to what was already a cleared as filed clearance.
GermanCoding
I don't know what the excact details of this implementation are, but the standard CPDLC for the A330/A380 over VHF Data Link in Europe works like a chat system:

Aircraft: "Air Berlin 3H is requesting FL380"
Controller: "Air Berlin 3H is cleared FL380"

(Aircraft displays message on CPDLC screen: "Cleared FL380 - accept/decline?")

So it's basically still like communicating over voice, just with text-based messages. Also, the A380 implementation can automatically execute the commands (for example update the FCU to the new altitude) or monitor them.

The system can also handle DIRECT TO messages. I've never seen that a full route has been updated, but I guess it's possible. The route can still be edited as usual or not updated at all.

Generally, if something is not clear over CPDLC, the pilots can ask the controller over "old-school" voice - or vice versa.
kirktuttle
Kirk Tuttle 1
It would appear that the FAA is now in the Aircraft Dispatching business. I guess the requirements of positive operational control via FAR 121 no longer apply? I wonder if this UPS crew has the fuel to fly the new route, the WX, Sigmets, Airmets, winds aloft and/or any other pertinent data for the safety of flight on the new route? They seem to be in violation here. This new stuff is very slick, but is it compliant?
Rodstein
As always, the pilot can still accept or decline the new clearance, or propose something different. This doesn't change any of that, just makes it quicker and easier to accomplish with less chance of errors.
kirktuttle
Kirk Tuttle 1
The pilot accepting or declining is not the issue. They (the FAA) have failed to provide a vehicle for compliance with FAR 121 as it pertains to "joint responsibility" between the PIC and the Aircraft Dispatcher. "Easier to accomplish" while being non-compliant with the required joint decision making leads to certificate action against both the pilot and the company.

UPS is not a steamship company, so therefore the Captain cannot act independently and autonomously. There are other requirements that are being bypassed when ATC decides to go into the routing of aircraft for their convenience.
Rodstein
Can't you still pick up the mic and renegotiate anthing you don't like? If so, the system is useful when the clearance is accepable to the pilot, and bypassed if it is not acceptable. What's wrong with that?
kirktuttle
Kirk Tuttle 1
No, you cannot do that in a P121 operation. You are bypassing the safety requirements of the FAR's. P135 and P91 operators have different rules.
kirktuttle
Kirk Tuttle 1
FAR 121.533 (a) Each certificate holder conducting domestic operations is responsible for operational control.

(b) The pilot in command and the aircraft dispatcher are jointly responsible for the preflight planning, delay, and dispatch release of a flight in compliance with this chapter and operations specifications.

(c) The aircraft dispatcher is responsible for --

(1) Monitoring the progress of each flight;

(2) Issuing necessary information for the safety of the flight; and

(3) Cancelling or redispatching a flight if, in his opinion or the opinion of the pilot in command, the flight cannot operate or continue to operate safely as planned or released.

(d) Each pilot in command of an aircraft is, during flight time, in command of the aircraft and crew and is responsible for the safety of the passengers, crewmembers, cargo, and airplane.

(e) Each pilot in command has full control and authority in the operation of the aircraft, without limitation, over other crewmembers and their duties during flight time, whether or not he holds valid certificates authorizing him to perform the duties of those crewmembers.
kirktuttle
Kirk Tuttle 1
Until the flight is airborne, the Captain has to abide by the requirements of 121.533. See paragraphs (a) and (b) above.

The FAA cannot disregard this requirement.
Rodstein
Well call me stupid, but I don't understand why a texted clearance would violate FAR 121.533 any more than a spoken one. It is the same clearance regardless of how it is delivered, and is not binding unless and until it is accepted by the pilot. Are you saying that the dispatcher is in the loop in one form of communication and not the other?
kirktuttle
Kirk Tuttle 1
Not a matter of being stupid. It is not understanding how operational control works. The Air Traffic Management side of the FAA is ursurping the FAR requirements in the interest of "efficiency". That's great except then safety and compliance are taking a back seat. They (the FAA) have no idea if the aircraft has the fuel to fly this route, has any MEL items or other operational limitations that would make it unable to fly this new route, and/or any of the operational parameters that may be limiting factors for this flight. The FAA folks in Air traffic Management that are determining these new routes know nothing about the operational capabilities of the aircraft they are rerouting. The FAA FSDO's and Inspectors are taking a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil approach to these situations for the most part. But, here is the gotcha...If the captain takes it upon himself to launch on one of these reroutes and the dispatcher is not included in the process, the regulatory side of the FAA can and will cite them as violating the requirements of Operational Control. And oh yeah, the FAA Air Traffic Mgmt folks who issued the new route, they have no dog in this fight, as they have nothing at risk!!!!
Yazoo
Yazoo 2
Kirk Tuttle - There is no violation or mitigating FAR 121.533. There is no difference between a voice, ACARS PDC, DCL (used at some non-US airports) or CPDLC-DCL. 99% of the changes are the SIDs where they airport assigns a SID rather than allowing you to pick the SID. The other case is to rapidly move aircraft on the departures due to weather closing a certain departure. The advantage of CPDLC-DCL is that it also feeds into the FMS (via FANS) so the crew does not have to re-type the departure. When you hit "ACCEPT" it also loads the departure. You can also hit REJECT or StandBY. If all else fails you revert to voice. The dispatcher also receives a copy of the CPDLC-DCL so he/she can verify. Enroute it is no different. If I need 20 right for weather, I send that message. So messages are pre-formatted to make that even easier. The controlling agency then responds. The same happens if they send you a clearance change. You review it and either accept it or reject it.
Rodstein
If ATC delivers a reroute to the aircraft via voice rather than by text, in what way is the dispatcher involved that would not be the case using text?
kirktuttle
Kirk Tuttle 1
Really? If the folks at the FAA Traffic Management Unit and/or the System Command Center change a specific aircrafts routing PRIOR to departure, how is the Dispatcher notified? Answer is that he/she is not as the FAA has no requirement in this new miracle of aviation to dot all the i's or cross all the t's. So compliance with 121.533 (b) is lost. Here's what happens in the real world. Flight accepts reroute prior to departure. In almost every case is told to take or leave it. Launches. Then once the dust settles they try to contact their dispatcher. Sometimes successful, sometimes not, as it depends upon where your are departing from and the communications available in that part of the world.

Case in point, BOS-MCO. Aircraft routed relatively direct down the coast. DC Center tanks. ATC issues a reroute. Now routed BOS to Cleveland Center then points south avoiding DC Center airspace. Crew is given ultimatum by BOS ATC and launches with new route. Once airborne they call or send ACARS with new route. According to your view this would be totally fine and compliant. Oops... Little problem here, the aircraft (already airborne) does not have enough fuel onboard to fly this new route. FMS says it will arrive with 800# remaining. Oops again....FMS didn't have the fuel required for the alternate airport in its calculations.

Bottom line in a P121 operation, the new ideology and system has been put into place in direct conflict with now existing FAR's. But the FAA has no requirement to abide by the FAR''s, only the operator and its employees do.
kirktuttle
Kirk Tuttle 1
Another part of the problem is that in the eyes of the FAA, All Aircraft are Created Equal. They have no idea as to the range capabilities and performance issues for each aircraft. They need to go back to separating aircraft and leave flight planning to professionals who have all of the data necessary to do so compliantly.
iflyrjs
Love it
DNev
DNev 1
It's unclear or I missed it? Will this system update routing after take off? Is it automatically accepted? If this system updates while in flight then other factors need to be considered - especially as it related to GA. In other words there still needs to be an agreement on the new routing. As a corporate pilot we have received new routing that were so far off our initial and current route of flight that they were not acceptable. We rejected them and continued on as initially cleared. I would hate to be locked into a route that added undue amount of time to what was already a cleared as filed clearance.
DNev
DNev 1
Sorry for the double post. I don't comment enough on these and didn't realize i had successfully posted the first time. Forgive me.
byoungblood
No, it isn't automatic. A pilot has to accept the new clearance, and we will see an acknowledgement on our end when they do it (not sure what that will look like, we haven't gotten that far yet). It just allows me as a controller to transmit a route amendment electronically instead of having to go through the whole "advise when ready to copy" bit, listen to the readback, fix any errors, etc...

Most reroutes I usually have to issue are due to flow control (TMU) directives. Whether it be for WX, volume over a particular route/fix, etc.

Note, you can't really "reject" a new clearance, unless it can't be safely complied with or you declare an emergency. Just because it adds time to the flight isn't reason enough. Many times you may be "cleared as filed" because the controller issuing the clearance has no idea what route you need to that airport, or they don't have the time to correct it (happens frequently with pop up IFRs). If you file direct to some place that has preferred routes, you can probably expect to be issued that route eventually, unless it is the middle of the night.
GermanCoding
So wait, it's just an article about CPDLC? That system has been around for years (FANS-A was deployed in 1990), but the system(s) still haven't found their way into the majority of cockpits - or to the controllers.
Yazoo
Yazoo 3
German Coding is 100% on. CPDLC has been used internationally for a long time. It's the FAA/ATC with their "...but that's not how we did it in the DC-3." mentality that has kept it from US domestic flying. Plus the airlines have to spend $$$ to FANS equip their fleets.

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